Running Scripts from IPython

IPython has a %%script cell magic, which lets you run a cell in a subprocess of any interpreter on your system, such as: bash, ruby, perl, zsh, R, etc.

It can even be a script of your own, which expects input on stdin.

In [1]:
import sys

Basic usage

To use it, simply pass a path or shell command to the program you want to run on the %%script line, and the rest of the cell will be run by that script, and stdout/err from the subprocess are captured and displayed.

In [2]:
%%script python
import sys
print 'hello from Python %s' % sys.version
hello from Python 2.7.1 (r271:86832, Jul 31 2011, 19:30:53) 
[GCC 4.2.1 (Based on Apple Inc. build 5658) (LLVM build 2335.15.00)]
In [3]:
%%script python3
import sys
print('hello from Python: %s' % sys.version)
hello from Python: 3.2.3 (v3.2.3:3d0686d90f55, Apr 10 2012, 11:25:50) 
[GCC 4.2.1 (Apple Inc. build 5666) (dot 3)]

IPython also creates aliases for a few common interpreters, such as bash, ruby, perl, etc.

These are all equivalent to %%script <name>

In [4]:
puts "Hello from Ruby #{RUBY_VERSION}"
Hello from Ruby 1.8.7
In [5]:
echo "hello from $BASH"
hello from /usr/local/bin/bash

Capturing output

You can also capture stdout/err from these subprocesses into Python variables, instead of letting them go directly to stdout/err

In [6]:
echo "hi, stdout"
echo "hello, stderr" >&2
hi, stdout
hello, stderr
In [7]:
%%bash --out output --err error
echo "hi, stdout"
echo "hello, stderr" >&2
In [8]:
hello, stderr

hi, stdout

Background Scripts

These scripts can be run in the background, by adding the --bg flag.

When you do this, output is discarded unless you use the --out/err flags to store output as above.

In [9]:
%%ruby --bg --out ruby_lines
for n in 1...10
    sleep 1
    puts "line #{n}"
Starting job # 0 in a separate thread.

When you do store output of a background thread, these are the stdout/err pipes, rather than the text of the output.

In [10]:
<open file '<fdopen>', mode 'rb' at 0x10a4be660>
In [11]:
line 1
line 2
line 3
line 4
line 5
line 6
line 7
line 8
line 9

Arguments to subcommand

You can pass arguments the subcommand as well, such as this example instructing Python to use integer division from Python 3:

In [12]:
%%script python -Qnew
print 1/3

You can really specify any program for %%script, for instance here is a 'program' that echos the lines of stdin, with delays between each line.

In [13]:
%%script --bg --out bashout bash -c "while read line; do echo $line; sleep 1; done"
line 1
line 2
line 3
line 4
line 5
Starting job # 2 in a separate thread.

Remember, since the output of a background script is just the stdout pipe, you can read it as lines become available:

In [14]:
import time
tic = time.time()
line = True
while True:
    line = bashout.readline()
    if not line:
    sys.stdout.write("%.1fs: %s" %(time.time()-tic, line))
0.0s: line 1
1.0s: line 2
2.0s: line 3
3.0s: line 4
4.0s: line 5

Configuring the default ScriptMagics

The list of aliased script magics is configurable.

The default is to pick from a few common interpreters, and use them if found, but you can specify your own in

c.ScriptMagics.scripts = ['R', 'pypy', 'myprogram']

And if any of these programs do not apear on your default PATH, then you would also need to specify their location with:

c.ScriptMagics.script_paths = {'myprogram': '/opt/path/to/myprogram'}